The Editor-In-Chief of Republic TV, Arnab Goswami was arrested on Thursday in suicide case which happened back in 2018. The investigation of this particular case was recently re-opened, as said by Mumbai police. However, there are BJP, and many others believe that the arrest violates the freedom of speech. Many believe that the Maharashtra government is trying to silence Republic TV and Mr Goswami.
The social media broke out with tweets made by several Union Ministers who have deeply condemned the arrest and subsequently reminded the time of Emergency back in 1975; it was the time when the government of Indira Gandhi had cracked down on the media.
Why Arnab Goswami was arrested?
Mr Goswami has been arrested for allegedly abetting the 2018 suicide of Anvay Naik, a 53-year-old interior designer and his mother. He had designed the set of Republic TV news channel.
It is reported that the interior designer had named Mr Goswami in his suicide note and had severely accused the channel, Republic TV of not clearing his dues after the completion of the channel’s set-up.
Mr Naik had mentioned two other names in the note, Feroz and Nitesh Sharda, who were also arrested. The case was closed by the Mumbai police in the past under alleged pressure.
It was in May 2020 that the Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh had announced the reinvestigation of the suicide after a complaint was freshly lodged by Adnya Naik, the interior designer’s daughter.
“Arnab kept saying arrests should be made in the Sushant Singh Rajput suicide case where there was no presence of a suicide note. My husband, on the other hand, had left behind a suicide note naming Arnab and two others but no arrests were made. How fair is this?” Anvay Naik’s wife Akshata enquired.
“There were three names in the suicide note. My father had given it all, the money he spent, energy, sweat at last his blood on his project. Arnab Goswami made sure that his dues are unpaid. My father mentions rupees 83 lakhs as dues in his suicide note,” said his daughter Adnya.
During the arrest, Mr Goswami loudly complained to the media before being pushed into the van that he was manhandled and assaulted by police officials. He also showed the injuries caused to his forearm due to the manhandling.
Media houses had captured and quoted him complaining that Mumbai Police “physically assaulted his mother-in-law and father-in-law, son and wife”. Later, when Republic TV aired several angled videos, there were policemen seen holding him while they were attempting to arrest him. The police officers also charged him with assaulting a woman officer in another case.
BJP leaders condemns arrest
The BJP leaders and Right-Wing supporters have claimed this as the death of democracy as this particular incident reminded them about times of censorship and curbing of one’s freedom of speech.
Condemning the attack on press freedom in Maharastra, Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Prakash Javadekar Tweeted, the incident reminds of the emergency days when the press was treated like this.
We condemn the attack on press freedom in #Maharashtra. This is not the way to treat the Press. This reminds us of the emergency days when the press was treated like this.@PIB_India @DDNewslive @republic
— Prakash Javadekar (@PrakashJavdekar) November 4, 2020
Union Home Minister Amit Shah, while condemning the episode Tweeted: Congress and its allies have shamed democracy once again. He stated that it is an attack on individual freedom and the 4th pillar of democracy and an apparent misuse of state power against Republic TV and Arnab Goswami. Adding, he wrote, the attack will be opposed.
Congress and its allies have shamed democracy once again.
Blatant misuse of state power against Republic TV & Arnab Goswami is an attack on individual freedom and the 4th pillar of democracy.
It reminds us of the Emergency. This attack on free press must be and WILL BE OPPOSED.
— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) November 4, 2020
After Mr Goswani’s arrest, Foreign Minister S Jaishankar Tweeted that shows shades of Emergency and attack on freedom of speech.
Shades of the Emergency!
The arrest of Arnab Goswami is an attack on the freedom of press. Those who really believe in this freedom must speak up!
— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) November 4, 2020
Members of BJP claimed “fascism” by Maharashtra’s Shiv Sena-led coalition.
A few media bodies and editors, including the individuals who are disparaging of his brand of news coverage, condemned the arrest.
Republic TV stated: “Arnab Goswami’s arrest has been made part of a larger vindictive exercise against an independent journalist and news network. This is to bring to light real facts on unfounded allegations in a closed case based on which Arnab Goswami was assaulted and arrested.”
Mr Goswani was produced before the Alibaug Court in Maharashtra on Thursday; however, the court denied plea for 14 days police custody.
Court explains on refusal of police custody.
The Chief Judicial Magistrate, Sunaina Pingale, in her order says Raigad Police has failed to show why police custody is required for Mr Goswami in the case where the “A” summary has been filed, leading the closure of the case earlier. The magistrate goes on to add that grounds for arrest and police custody pleaded by the prosecution show that the arrest too may seem to be illegal.
The court also said that it “failed to see how the police has sought for remand without bringing strong evidence on record to show that the circumstances leading to the arrest, which warranted his police custody for investigation,” a report by NDTV read.
The court further added that the police failed to show what were the shortcomings and gaps in the investigation which was carried out in 2018, leading to re-opening of the probe. Adding to the setback for the police, the court said police failed to show the link between the alleged deaths by suicide and Mr Goswami’s connection to those suicides to justify police custody.
Additional Public Prosecutor Mahakal informed the court the case was closed earlier due to lack of evidence. However, after Mr Naik’s wife, Akshata Naik, filed another complaint to re-start the investigation, police have enough evidence to justify Mr Goswami’s arrest.
While the order is a relief for Mr Goswami, police sources say they disagree with the conclusions of the court and will challenge it in the appropriate forum.
Meanwhile, Mr Goswami had pleaded for an immediate release in front of Bombay High court, besides a stay on all further proceedings, including investigation into the FIR. His representative senior counsel Harish Salve and Abad Ponda at the virtual hearing sought for interim release arguing that Mr Goswami’s arrest was ‘completely illegal’.
Attack on Republic TV – Trap by Maharashtra Government?
The sudden arrest of the journalist comes in the middle of his series with the Mumbai Police over its investigations into a scam for higher ratings and severe allegations against the news channel, Republic TV being amongst the top three channels involved in the manipulation TRPs or Television Rating Points by bribing households for viewership and exaggerating the case to the point where it had held its investigations. The editor had blamed the police for pestering his associates and seeking after a dispute over his channel’s analysis of Mumbai Police’s treatment of the Sushant Singh Rajput case.
The Congress, a partner in the state’s ruling coalition, hit on the BJP of “Selective outrage”, after part accused Maharastra Government on the arrest of Mr Goswami.
Maharashtra’s ruling Shiv Sena denied that the arrest was a vicious move,” The law is followed in Maharashtra. Police can take action if they have evidence against anyone. Since the formation of the Uddhav Thackeray government, no action has been taken against anyone for revenge,” said senior Sena leader Sanjay Raut.
Though few liberals have also condemned the arrest while they stood firm, and disregarded Mr Goswami’s journalism. The arrest and the charges against Goswami have a legit explanation to it, calling it as planned and targeted one would be a rugged stance to hold.
The fact remains that Maharashtra Government quickly used their last weapon against the editor as things went beyond and after in Sushant Singh Rajput’s case which stretched onto the drug abuse case of Bollywood finally the demolishing of actress, Kangana Ranaut’s office in Mumbai.
Another controversial case is at hand, which in future can bring a new turn of events. Maharashtra Government’s move was witty or imprudent; this will be decided after the evidence are set, and court proceedings begin.
Currently, Bombay High Court his hearing to Mr Goswami’s habeas corpus plea.